The ABC was reporting this morning that a solar power station planned for development in North Queensland has been shelved because it is economically unviable.
The Copper String project would have involved connecting Townsville and Mt Isa, and tying them into the existing electricity grid. This would mean that the initial project and any others developed around that area could generate and sell clean power into the grid. Although the article claims that Bob Katter is criticising the Qld government for pulling the plug, there’s a little more to the story.
You may recall that Katter was previously a National Party Federal MP but became independent after the last elections. This was something of a surprise as he’d always seemed, well, conservative and a bit mad. It was interesting to hear his reasons for his move to independence as they included funding for education and green energy development in his electorate. Many people who work in the agricultural sector in Australia have been more and more unhappy with government policy relating to “the bush” and primary industry, but a die hard like Katter splitting from the coalition was a big move. I’ve also been interested to see that he was out visiting the anti-fracking protests and supporting farmers and landholders who wished to decline fracking exploration on their land and coal mining.
Well, it seems the fossil fuel industry doesn’t mind playing dirty. The reason the Qld govt decided the solar power project was untenable was a statement by a large mining corporation that they wouldn’t be buying power from said project.
Previously there had been rumours of “land grabbing” related to the solar plant, but despite whatever the intention of the rumour mongers it turned out that people living in the region were supportive of the project and not unhappy about contributing.
So Xstrata made their announcement recently. It won’t surprise you to learn that Xstrata is a multinational mining company and among their projects is coal mining in Australia.
Bob Katter wonders why multinational companies should have the final say on green energy development in Australia rather than say, the citizens or a democratically elected government. So do I. Pulling the plug on an investment of this nature with the excuse that it is “economically unviable” seems like a. very short term thinking and b. manipulation by vested interests.
Come on folks. It’s the 21st century already. But here’s the free market, trashing the planet like it’s 1799.